Steve Sarkisian’s USC Trojans may be getting potentially huge news soon. Literally, given that it pertains to 375 pound offensive guard Damien Mama.
Mama(above right), a Latter Day Saint, came out of St. John Bosco in Bellflower with the intention of playing at USC as a freshman before taking a traditional two-year Mormon mission.
By NCAA rules, missions are permitted exceptions to halting the five-year clock.
That means that Mama could come back after two years and still be a true sophomore with three years of eligibility and a redshirt still there to burn.
But hold on to your horses. Mama, along several other freshmen, met with reporters for the first time on Tuesday evening and told the media that he’s holding off on making his decision to take his mission after this season.“Not sure” would be his exact words, via Lindsey Thiry of the LA Times.
For the Trojans, this is quite significant.
While you would hope that any coach would respect the wishes of a player to take a mission, there’s always the concern about the two-year layoff, though it’s somewhat unfair.
Steve Sarkisian, a quarterback at BYU, knows all about the luxury of playing behind mature offensive linemen that had two extra years under their belt from a mission.
And it didn’t bother former UCLA offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo, who arguably got stronger both mentally and physically after his mission.
However, Manti Te’o wound up staying at Notre Dame for four consecutive years despite originally intending to take a mission.
That may be the route that Mama goes, should he ultimately decide to take a later-in-life mission as he told Chris Swanson of Rivals, that he was considering.
At the end of the day, a mission is an extremely personal decision that means a significantly more than football. Mama will have to make that decision at some point, as he approaches his 19th birthday.
Whether or not this season plays a role in shaping his decision, we’ll have to wait and see. Mama is currently battling with Aundrey Walker at the starting right tackle spot, as Khaliel Rodgers is sidelined with a sprain knee.